full title · The Old Man and the Sea
author · Ernest Hemingway
type of work · Novella
genre · Parable; tragedy
language · English
time and place written · 1951, Cuba
date of first publication · 1952
publisher · Scribner’s
narrator · The novella is narrated by an anonymous narrator.
point of view · Sometimes the narrator describes the characters and events objectively, that is, as they would appear to an outside observer. However, the narrator frequently provides details about Santiago’s inner thoughts and dreams.
tone · Despite the narrator’s journalistic, matter-of-fact tone, his reverence for Santiago and his struggle is apparent. The text affirms its hero to a degree unusual even for Hemingway.
tense · Past
setting (time) · Late 1940s
setting (place) · A small fishing village near Havana, Cuba; the waters of the Gulf of Mexico
protagonist · Santiago
major conflict · For three days, Santiago struggles against the greatest fish of his long career.
rising action · After eighty-four successive days without catching a fish, Santiago promises his former assistant, Manolin, that he will go “far out” into the ocean. The marlin takes the bait, but Santiago is unable to reel him in, which leads to a three-day struggle between the fisherman and the fish.
climax · The marlin circles the skiff while Santiago slowly reels him in. Santiago nearly passes out from exhaustion but gathers enough strength to harpoon the marlin through the heart, causing him to lurch in an almost sexual climax of vitality before dying.
falling action · Santiago sails back to shore with the marlin tied to his boat. Sharks follow the marlin’s trail of blood and destroy it. Santiago arrives home toting only the fish’s skeletal carcass. The village fishermen respect their formerly ridiculed peer, and Manolin pledges to return to fishing with Santiago. Santiago falls into a deep sleep and dreams of lions.
themes · The honor in struggle, defeat, and death; pride as the source of greatness and determination
motifs · Crucifixion imagery; life from death; the lions on the beach
symbols · The marlin; the shovel-nosed sharks
foreshadowing · Santiago’s insistence that he will sail out farther than ever before foreshadows his destruction; because the marlin is linked to Santiago, the marlin’s death foreshadows Santiago’s own destruction by the sharks.
I believe the Warbler which lands on Santiago's skiff before flying off to meet the Hawks could be considered a minor character. I believe it serves as a symbol or something of the small comforts of life which are fine and enjoyable, but often leave us without warning or reason.
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In reply to The Gunner.
I think you are right, but I think you can also look at the warbler as almost a metaphor for Santiago.When the warbler lands on his line he is very tired and has just completed a long and hard journey and is resting for a bit before going off to meet the predatory hawks. This is much like Santiago's state just after he has caught the Marlin. He is very tired and worn yet has precious little time to rest before he must go and face the predatory sharks.
I believe that the Warbler is a symbol Hemingway put in the book to represent his mother. In Hemingway's life he kind of pushed his mother away and wouldn't really focus at all on her later in his life. This is because he couldn't stand her criticizing his writing and didn't want her to be around it. Since Santiago represents Hemingway and fishing represents writing in the book I think the Warbler symbolizes Hemingway's mother.